Robert Parish, Kevin Willis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant.
All five of those men played in the NBA for 20 seasons. If Metta World Peace, who signed a one-year, non-guaranteed deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on September 21, makes the team’s roster, it will be the start of his 17th NBA season and 18th professional season. He did not play in the NBA during the 2014-15 campaign, instead splitting his year in China and Italy.
While making it to 20 NBA seasons may be a daunting task, Metta World Peace would like to at least play 20 pro seasons and he feels he can do so.
“I want to finish off strong,”World Peace said to Mark Medina of The Orange County Register.“It’s not about what it will mean to me. It’s about, ‘Can I get there?’”
World Peace, 36, played in 35 games for the Lakers last season, averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game. He signed a similar one-year, non-guaranteed deal nearly a year earlier and despite heavy competition, he made the team.
“We didn’t expect him to make the team last year and he made it,” general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “The same thing can happen this year.”
Spearheaded by new head coach and former Laker Luke Walton, the team is entering the post-Kobe Bryant era. Growing pains are expected as the Lakers will send out a fleet of young, talented, but unproven players this season. From the second overall pick in this year’s draft, Brandon Ingram, to incumbents such as Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Jordan Clarkson, veteran leadership will be a necessity.
“Metta is very professional,”Walton said (via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times)“There’s a lot of help having him around and having him at camp.”
A defensive standout, former NBA champion with the Lakers, and one of the most controversial figures in recent NBA history, World Peace brings a lot more than just experience. Several of the Lakers’ more prominent free agent signings, like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, bring experience and championship pedigree.
World Peace brings a confidence that supersedes talent alone – a confidence that once earned him a negative reputation. He even acknowledged not always being the best teammate.
While World Peace is far being guaranteed a roster spot, he’s preparing for the season to be a mentor and contribute to the team in any way he can.
“My concern is having a good time. There’s nothing to overcome,” World Peace said. “I’m a hell of a basketball player. That’s the hard part, becoming a good basketball player. Once you do that, you don’t have to worry about nothing else.”